"Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are
spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to
thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
Paul is nearing the end of his
letter. He has built a complete case against following after
the law of Moses. Now he is going to take advantage of
this opportunity to give his readership some practical spiritual
instruction. A trespass is a violation of God's will.
The trespass of the overall context of Paul's letter is of course
Judaizing, however, he extends the boundaries to include any
trespass. He admonishes them to carry out this directive in a
spirit of gentleness. In Paul's letter to Timothy, he
expounded more on this spirit of gentleness that is to be the goal
of every Christian when dealing with those who may be in genuine
error. 2 Timothy 2:24-26, "And a servant of the Lord must
not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in
humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will
grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that
they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil,
having been taken captive by him to do his will."
"looking to thyself, lest thou
also be tempted."
Paul cautions his readership to be
careful and see that they do not allow themselves to fall into
temptation of any kind when dealing with those who have gone astray
or are in error. One has to maintain their spirit of
gentleness and not allow themselves to strike out with malicious
intent or cruel behavior. There comes a time when a Christian
must make a stand against error and then such things as church
discipline and disfellowship are called for, but it is vital that we
all know and understand that these things are not license to in any
way act unbecoming of a Christian. Haughtiness, arrogance and self
righteous conduct is what Paul is warning against here. The
restoration of those in error is to be carried out with a spirit of
gentleness and with the goal of restoring the erring brother and
sister to their good standing before God. A hurtful or
malicious spirit is never acceptable.
"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."
Christians are not to be
isolationists. Paul exhorts his readership to get involved
with their brethren. The context here is the restoration of
those in their midst who had erred from the truth. Paul is
telling them not to just stick their head in the sand and do nothing
about their situation. He is telling them to be pro-active
with them, show them you care through actions and not just words.
"and so fulfil the law of Christ."
Here is a direct reference to the
"law of Christ". Paul has written much in this letter
about the rejection of the law of Moses in favor of the faith of
Christ. Many times Paul's reference to the law of Moses is
just simply "the law" or "law". Paul did not refer to the law
of Moses as the "law of Moses" every time he referred to it.
Many people today pull these references entirely out of the overall
context of Paul's letter and use them to set forth the idea that
there is no law under the new system of faith which a Christian must
keep. Their goal being to eliminate the need for strict
obedience to the will of God. They will take Things under the
new covenant which are obviously law which must be kept, and lump
them in with the abolished law of Moses
Proponents of the "no law under
Christ" position do not take a
critical enough look at their own belief. When one puts this
doctrine to the test it is very obvious from the beginning that it
cannot be true that there is no law under the present system of
faith. Those who claim no law under faith like to use Paul's
teachings out of context to support their doctrine. For
example, in Galatians 5:14, Paul wrote, "For all the law is
fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your
neighbor as yourself." Proponents of the no law under
faith doctrine will produce this scripture which lists love as a
requirement for fulfilling a law they say does not exist. Such
a claim is utter nonsense. That is like arguing against a
system of traffic laws by producing a speed limit one has to obey.
It's as if common sense and logic are utterly thrown to the wind.
Either there is law under the system of faith or there is not and
the production of a single ordinance which must be kept under the
system does not disprove the existence of law altogether.
Digging just one layer deeper in this
investigation, one can look at two verses of scripture to produce
yet another insurmountable obstacle to the 'no law under faith'
doctrine: Romans 3:23,
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", and 1
John 3:4, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law:
for sin is the transgression of the law." Since all have
sinned, and sin is a transgression of law, then it stands to reason
that there must be a law to transgress, or else no one could sin and
fall short of the glory of God. When one starts subjecting
this doctrine to a critical Biblical review, it become readily
evident that we do indeed have law under the present day system of
faith. Such a notion should be outright rejected as utter
There is law under the present system
of faith. In other words, there are things one must do in
order to keep the faith of Christ. We are going to examine a
few of these things which one must do in order to keep the faith of
1) The most obvious one in this
case is to "bear one another's burdens" which is mentioned in
this very verse. This is something the Galatian Christians
were commanded to do in order to fulfill the law of Christ.
Fulfilling the law of Christ in this context does not mean the
entire law of Christ is observed through the keeping of this one
command. Bearing one another's burdens will fulfill the law of
Christ in so much as that aspect of it is concerned. For
example, while on a trip, one's spouse may caution the driver to
observe the posted speed limit in order to fulfill the traffic law.
The concerned passenger did not mean or imply in any way that all of
the traffic laws in existence were automatically observed by keeping
the one speed limit. Neither did Paul mean or imply that all
of the law of Christ was kept when one bears another's burden.
The law of Christ is kept in so far as that aspect of it is
2) We have to believe.
Jesus said in John 3:18, "He who believes in Him is not
condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because
he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God".
Those who do not believe are condemned, therefore it is part of the
law of God to believe. This is something one must do in order
to keep the faith of Christ. Those who say there is no law
under Christ therefore need to explain why one then has to believe.
3) We have to
repent. Jesus said in Luke 13:3, "I
tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
Repentance as a component of faith is a requirement, therefore it is
part of the law of Christ. Those who say there is no law under
Christ therefore need to explain why one then has to repent.
We could go on and on and include
confession, baptism and continued obedience but the point is, if
there is anything which one must do in order to live the life of
faith, then the doctrine of 'no law under Christ' cannot be true.
Paul has been contrasting the law of
Moses and the system of faith in Christ throughout this letter.
Here he gives this system of faith another designation. The
law of Christ is simply another reference to the faith of Christ.
There are many different designations used in scripture to "the
faith". Each one of them refers to the same thing and
represents a specific aspect of it.
The faith is sometimes referred to as
the gospel which represents the good news aspect of it. The
faith is sometimes referred to as simply the faith which represents
our belief and hope in a system whereby we can be reconciled to God.
The faith is referred to in the context of Galatians 6:2 as law
which represents a rule or pattern of behavior which one must engage
in. All of these things and many others represent an aspect of the
system of faith in Christ which we live by.
"For if a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he
Keeping in mind that the immediate
context here is of restoring those who had been deceived into the
Judaizers doctrine a Christian engaged in this must exhibit
humility. If one approaches an erring brother with a holier
than thou attitude, he damages his own credibility and hinders his
efforts. In addition to that, anyone who thinks they are
elevated in stature over others because of their spiritual standing
is deceiving themselves. We are all sinners on the same
journey. Were it not for the mercy and grace of God we would
all be condemned and we must never let ourselves forget that.
Jesus taught the principle of
humility in the parable of the Pharisee
and the tax collector in Luke 18:10-14, "Two men went up to the
temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The
Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that
I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even
as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all
that I possess.' 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would
not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast,
saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man
went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone
who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will
be exalted." (NKJV)
James wrote in 4:6, "
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the
proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."
Peter wrote in 1 Peter
5:5-6, "Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your
elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed
with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the
humble." 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God".
"But let each man prove his own work, and then shall he have his
glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbor."
The best way to help restore those in
error is to practice what you preach. One proves their work
when they live their faith. Those who live contrary to the
will of God are going to be more likely to listen when they see
those around them proving their faith by living it.
"and then shall he have his
glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbor"
The Judaizers were seeking glory from
others V16. When one demonstrates their work in the Lord, then
they can rejoice inwardly with the quiet and calm assurance that
befits a Christian. The faithful Christian must never seek the
glory and admiration of others. Paul touches on this again in
the final sentences of this letter.
"For each man shall bear
his own burden."
This verse begins with the word "for".
This usually introduces an explanation or continuing thought from
the previous statement. So in order to properly
understand this verse, one needs to consider the preceding text.
Paul exhorts his readership to first prove their work, or in other
words, practice what they preach, or put action to their words.
One's glorying or rejoicing over this will be a private thing and
not something they wear in front of others like a trophy or a badge.
The previous verse was an exhortation of labor. Paul told them
to do something and to be pro-active in the lives of others.
And now Paul assigns personal responsibility to the mix. Keep
in mind the larger context of the proper re-assimilation of erring
brethren to the truth.
In verse 2, Paul told them to
"Bear ye one another's burdens" and now we learn that we
have a burden to bear in this matter and we are responsible for it.
Christians are not only expected to help bear the burdens of others,
they are also responsible for bearing their own. And those
Christians who may have burdens to bear that no other Christian
helps with are still responsible for their own burdens. The
fact that one's brother has been commanded to help bear his burden
does not mean it is not still his burden to bear. Christians
are absolutely required to help one another in the time of need.
But the responsibility for the burden lies squarely on the
individual no matter who may or may not come to their aid.
For example, one may give a certain
task to a servant and make them responsible for completing it.
While doing this, another servant may be required to assist the
first servant in the completion of the task. The servant
responsible for the completion of the task is required to accomplish
that task whether or not the second servant helped him or not.
Another example is, this Bible
student is a project manager for the company he works for. His
employer sends him out to complete a project and sends people with
him as laborers. If this project manager fails to complete the
project, his employer is not going to accept the excuse that his
helpers did not help him. This project manager is to bear the
burden of the project and is responsible for it no matter what.
In a similar fashion, Christians are to bear one another burden's.
We are to help one another. But those burdens remain the sole
responsibility of the one who owns them regardless of whether he or
she gets any help or not.
The primary burden in view of this
context is the burden born by those who are outside the will of God
to return to good standing and for those who are assisting them in
this process. It's a shared burden but in the end, the
responsibility of it lies solely on the owner of that burden.
The application for us today is that we are as individually
responsible for whatever burdens we have and if we fail in these
responsibilities, we cannot point to our brethren and say it's their
fault I failed. If you failed, you are going bear the
consequences. If they failed to help you, they are going to
bear the consequences for that.
"For each man shall bear
his own burden."
Be Generous and Do
"But let him that is
taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good
The ASV rendering of this verse does
not adequately convey the meaning of what Paul wrote here. The
NKJV is much clearer and renders it thus: "Let him who is taught
the word share in all good things with him who teaches."
This is one of the teachings which
authorize paid preachers and the congregational support of teachers,
elders or others who labor in the gospel. Other verses of
scripture which complement this are:
1 Corinthians 9:9-14
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an
ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned
about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes,
no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope,
and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we
have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap
your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over
you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right,
but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you
not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things
of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the
offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those
who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
1 Timothy 5:17-18
"Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor,
especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the
Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the
grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages."
It is entirely appropriate to
compensate those who teach and preach God's word. It is
however not required in those instances where one does not need to
"For he that soweth unto
his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth
unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life."
is a reference to living
after the lusts of the flesh as Paul had just outlined in Galatians
5:18-21; and sowing to the Spirit is the equivalent of living the
kind of life that exhibits the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians
5:22-24). Those who live after the lusts of the flesh will be
condemned while those who develop and exhibit the fruits of the
Spirit will receive eternal life.
"And let us not be weary
in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
This is an exhortation for
perseverance. The Christian is to maintain an obedient faith
throughout their lifetime. Jesus wrote in Revelation 2:10, "Be
faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."
Jesus wrote in Matthew 24:13,
he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
The Hebrew writer taught in Hebrews 10:36, "For you have need of
endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may
receive the promise".
This idea of reaping a harvest is the
reward of eternal life mentioned in the previous verse. Our
home in heaven is something we are to strive for. Paul wrote
Romans 2:5-11, "But
in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are
treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation
of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one
according to his deeds": 7 eternal life to those who by patient
continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8
but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but
obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and
anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and
also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who
works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For
there is no partiality with God".
Of course we need to understand and
acknowledge the fact that our obedience does not merit or pay for
our salvation. God does not owe us anything because we submit
to His will. Nothing mankind can do could ever make the
sacrifice of Jesus Christ unnecessary. Mankind simply cannot
be reconciled to God without the cross. Jesus paid a debt that
mankind could not pay and the debt He paid can never be reimbursed
by mankind. But this fact does not mean we have no obligations
in this matter. Indeed we do, and failure to meet these
obligations results in a situation where we will have to pay the
penalty for our sin. And even though one should be punished
forever, he will never ever fully pay for his sin.
"So then, as we have
opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and
especially toward them that are of the household of the faith."
Christians are expected to be
benevolent. Working good has a broad application. Paul
mentioned goodness as one of the fruits of the Spirit. Here he
specifically mentions it and associates it with work. Good is
something to be worked. While benevolence is definitely a part
of this, it is not limited to simply providing for the physical
needs of others. There are spiritual needs of other to be
addressed as well. Working good means all the good and right
things that can be done for others, both spiritual and physical
which will help them to the ultimate goal of salvation.
"So then, as we have opportunity"
We are to watch for opportunities and
take advantage of them as they present themselves.
"let us work that which is good
toward all men"
This means everyone, both inside and
outside the body of Christ.
" and especially toward them that
are of the household of the faith."
While the command to do good is
extended to all, those inside the body of Christ are to receive
preference. When it comes to the physical and spiritual needs
of others, Christians are to make sure other Christians needs are
cared for. Christians are obligated to take care of their own
first. It would be inappropriate to extend benevolence to
someone outside the body of Christ and allow a Christian widow to
The entire letter of Galatians is
addressed to the churches of Galatia. This command is given to
the individual congregations of the body of Christ in Galatia.
The application for us today is that we as congregations of the body
of Christ are to work those things which are good towards all men,
either in or outside the body of Christ.
There are two groups of people
represented in this context. Those who comprise all men and
those who are of the household of faith. Paul commanded the
churches of Galatia to do good to all of them with a special
emphasis on those who are in Christ. This includes benevolent
acts which are supported directly or indirectly by the congregation.
We need to recognize and be aware
that the rules of good stewardship are applicable here as well.
Christians are not to support or condone acts of evil, therefore it
would be inappropriate to extend benevolence to those who obviously
have no intention of repenting and will use the benevolence extended
to them for evil. We are not to use benevolence to cast our
pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). We are not to use
benevolence to condone that which is evil (2 John 10). But we
can as a congregation help those in need who are not of the
household of faith so long as we do so within the constraints of
God's will elsewhere.
The Corinthians did it and were
commended for it in 2 Corinthians 9:11-13, "while you are
enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving
through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not
only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through
many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this
ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to
the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all
Glory Only in the Cross
"See with how large
letters I write unto you with mine own hand."
Paul is about to close his letter.
As he does so, he is going to make some concluding remarks about the
Judaizers in his farewell. It was common for Paul to have
someone else help him write his epistles. He would dictate and
his assistant would write. For example in Romans 16:22, we
read, "I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord."
Paul dictated while Tertius wrote.
Apparently Timothy helped to write
Colossians, and both letters to the Thessalonians with Silvanus.
Colossians 1:1, "Paul, an apostle
of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother"
1 Thessalonians 1:1, "Paul,
Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God
our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (NKJV).
2 Thessalonians 1:1, "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church
of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"
It was customary for Paul to take pen
in hand at some time during the letters and write part of it himself
in his own hand:
In Colossians 4:18 Paul closed his
epistle with these words, "This salutation by my own hand — Paul.
Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen." (NKJV)
In 2 Thessalonians 3:17, we read, "The
salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every
epistle; so I write." (NKJV).
Paul used this to authenticate these
epistles. Obviously he had a very distinct form of
handwriting. Some scholars believe he used what was called
Greek "uncials". These were large letters which at first could
be draw with a single pen stroke similar to cursive writing.
These Uncial letters evolved into more elaborate letters into what
we see today as those large single ornamental letters that mark the
beginning of a paragraph or a book.
We do not know why Paul customarily
had others write his epistles at his direction. It has been
suggested that this is evidence supporting his poor eyesight.
What we can correctly infer from these texts is that this was a form
of Paul's authentication of his epistles similar to our modern day
signatures on a document. Obviously Paul had a distinct form
of writing that was known to those who would receive his epistles.
And similar to a signature today identified the person authoring the
document. This was Paul's seal of authentication which was
intended to let his readership know they were reading the
instructions of the Apostle.
"As many as desire to
make a fair show in the flesh, they compel you to be circumcised;
only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ."
This verse demonstrates
that while Paul is engaging in practical instruction at the end of
his letter he is still dealing with the Judaizers. The Jewish
persecution of Christianity at this time in history was quite
severe. The Judaizers were obviously trying to accommodate
Jewish opinion in order to avoid persecution.
"For not even they who
receive circumcision do themselves keep the law; but they desire to
have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh."
The Judaizers had a
motive and a strategy for what they were doing among the Gentile
churches of Christ. Some of their agenda is revealed in this
context. As the Judaizers gained more of a following they were
evidently persuading Christians who had become Judaizers to procure,
by any practical means, the circumcision of as many of the Gentile
converts as possible. Their ultimate goal was the conversion
of as many of the Christians as possible back into Judaism.
They were not even keeping the law of Moses themselves. They
were not interested in whether or not what they were teaching was
the truth or not. Their motivation was to ease the Jewish
persecution of Christians and to promote themselves within their
immediate society. They cared nothing for the law of Moses,
yet they were trying to encourage others to follow it. They
started with circumcision to get
the process started. Once that was achieved, they then went on
to add more and more of the law of Moses in a gradual and steady
process. With the unbelieving Jews fueling this process with
persecution, no doubt this would ultimately end with the
proselytization of the Christians completely back into the Law of
Moses until nothing of the cross of Christ remained.
What Paul meant in this
verse was that It is from no zeal for the Law that they do what they
do, for they are at no pains to keep the Law of Moses; but only with
the object of currying favor with the Jews.
"But far be it from me
to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which
the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Paul contrasts his own motives with
those of the Judaizers. Paul's cares nothing at all about the
opinions of men nor has he has any ambitions of glory before them.
His only purpose is to live for Christ and to promote true
Christianity to mankind. He refuses to compromise the truth
even to the point of death which he eventually demonstrated when he
died at the hands of a Roman executioner.
"For neither is
circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."
1 Corinthians 7:18-19, "Was
any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become
uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not
to be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is
nothing, but (what matters is) the keeping of the commandments of
With the close of the law of Moses,
circumcision as a tenant of that law was forever removed. It
no longer mattered one way or the other. Those who had been
circumcised under the law of Moses had nothing to fear as long as
they were faithful Christians. Those who had not been
circumcised were not required under the law of Christ to undergo it.
Circumcision became irrelevant unless one did it as an act of
commitment to the law of Moses which carried the consequence of
falling from the grace of God as we learned in Galatian 5:4.
The Judaizers had been insisting that circumcision according to the
law of Moses as a means of identifying oneself as a child of God was
"but a new creature."
Here is the contrast which replaced
circumcision as the means of identifying oneself as a child of God.
Becoming a "new creature" is what replaced circumcision under
the law of Moses.
In 2 Corinthians 5:15, Paul wrote, "Wherefore
if any man is in Christ, (he is) a new creature: the old things are
passed away; behold, they are become new" (ASV). The
conditional "if" used in this verse demonstrates that being "in
Christ" is a requirement for being a "new creature".
One is a new creature if one is in Christ. Consequently one is
not a new creature if one is not in Christ. Paul taught in
Galatians 3:27 and Romans 6:3 that one is baptized or immersed "into
There are several scriptures which
speak of aspects of this new creature. In John 3:3-7 Jesus
gives us the requirement and the parameters for being born again.
In verse 4 Jesus says, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see
the kingdom of God." In Verse
5 Jesus went on to say concerning this rebirth process, "Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the
Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Being a
new creature requires being born again.
Titus 3:5, Paul wrote, "Not by works of righteousness which we
have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of
regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost".
Regeneration carries the meaning of being generated again.
This is another term for being reborn.
In Romans 6:3-4, "Or do you not
know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were
baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through
baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by
the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of
life" (NKJV). This newness of life Paul is referring to
here is connected with being born again, regenerated, a new
creature. Some translations render this as "new creation".
All of these terms point to a change that is made in one's life.
When we are baptized into Christ, we are completely and utterly
forgiven of all of our past sins. We are in the body of Christ
and therefore restored or reconciled to a state of fellowship with
God. We are adopted into His family as His children.
John 1:12-13, "But
as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become
children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born,
not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,
but of God" (NKJV). Being reborn is not after the flesh,
meaning not our physical bodies, but being born again of God.
The becoming a new
creature or creation; being born again; regenerated to walk in
newness of life; meaning a new way of living; has replaced
circumcision as the means of identifying oneself as a child of God.
In this present age, we refer to it as being a Christian.
Whether or not one is circumcised is no longer of any spiritual
significance and has nothing whatsoever to do with being a child of
God. What does matter is being a baptized, born again,
regenerated creature who abandons his former behavior and walks in a
Plea to Walk According
to the Rule of Christ
"And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace (be) upon them,
and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."
What Paul wrote in verse 15 was a
rule. We learned in chapter 5, verse 4 that to be circumcised
as a commitment to the law of Moses carried the consequence of
falling from God's grace. Here we have Paul reinforcing this
as a rule. And those who walk by this rule of the law of
Christ will receive peace and mercy. The logical opposite of
what Paul says here is that those who do not walk by this rule in
verse 15 will not be the recipients of God's peace and mercy.
This command of Paul demonstrates
that the law of Christ which he referred to in verse 2 of this
chapter is indeed a law with rules of conduct which must be observed
by those who desire to be the children of God. Christians must
be obedient to all of the law of Christ and not just the
portions of it stressed in this final chapter of Paul's letter.
In 1 Peter 1:25, we read, "But the word of the Lord endures
forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to
you" (NKJV). The gospel contains all of God's will for
mankind. We must live in accordance with it all.
"the Israel of God."
Israel is the adopted name of Jacob
which was often used to refer to his descendants. The original
Hebrew word came from two root words which meant to be mighty and to
prevail. Paul deliberately chose these words to drive home the
point that those who are born again, regenerated, new creatures are
the Israel of God. The Judaizers had been telling the
Galatians they needed to be circumcised to be identified with
Israel, which is another term used to describe the children of God.
Paul just told them the exact opposite. Those who are the new
creation in and through Jesus Christ are the Israel of God.
Being "In Jesus Christ" has replaced circumcision as the means of
being a child of God which is the same thing as being the Israel of
God, the descendants of Jacob. The Israel of God would indeed
be mighty and would prevail with the gentiles as fellow heirs of the
promises of Abraham through Jesus Christ.
"Henceforth, let no man
trouble me; for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus."
On Paul's first missionary journey,
he went through Galatia. One of the places he visited on that
journey was Lystra where he was stoned and left for dead. His
readership would read these words and remember that Paul suffered
greatly in order to bring them the truth. Paul paid a heavy
personal price for the evangelism of the Galatian Christians and now
he is calling that to the attention of his readership. The
Judaizers were men who were teaching them a false doctrine.
What Paul had taught them at the beginning and now in this epistle,
was coming from God and not men. Paul is telling them he isn't
going to allow men to trouble, persecute or sway him from the truth.
And they witnessed first hand just how serious Paul was about that
because he was stoned for it right in their midst.
Paul's Hope of Grace
to the Galatians
"The grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen."
Call to mind that Paul opened this
letter with no words of praise for his readership. He
basically introduced himself and set a tone of hurt surprise, sorrow
and indignation which continued on throughout the epistle.
Paul condemned their actions and the actions of the Judaizers
starting in verse 6 of the first chapter. When one goes back
and examines the original text, this would have been Paul's third
sentence into the letter.
In this final word "brethren," one
sees the loving heart of Paul yearning for his fellow Christians in
Galatia. It is a final word of love and hope for all of them. He had
not given up on them. They were still brethren. Now it is in
the hands of the Galatian Christians on how they would proceed.
In this epistle, they had everything they needed to refute the
doctrine of the Judaizers. Paul made a complete and thorough
case for his authenticity and for the authenticity of the gospel he
had first preached to them. Everything the Judaizers had told
them about being circumcised, and following the of Moses and how one
becomes a child of God and heir to the promises of Abraham had been
refuted. Through Jesus Christ, they not only had everything
they needed to become the children of God, they had more than those
living under the law of Moses. The law of Christ had been set
forth as being superior to the law of Moses in every way.
Those things which they were taught
apply to us as well. Today, we see all sorts of people who are
reverting back to the law of Moses in some form or another.
Musical instruments were a part of the law of Moses and are not
found anywhere in the law of Christ. Some people burn incense
which was a part of the law of Moses and not found anywhere in the
law of Christ. Modern day Sabbath Day Adventists offer their
worship on the Sabbath day which is not found anywhere in the law of
Christ. Those living today need to heed the things Paul wrote
to the Galatians. In this epistle we see a stern warning for
such things. The law of Moses teaches us principles which
endure today, but as far as a rule of faith, it is to be utterly
abandoned in favor of the law of Christ.
Did this letter have the desired
effect on Paul's readership? The best evidence we have in
favor of that is the existence of it in our Bibles today.
Through this letter, we today can
learn that we as gentiles are:
- The Children of God
- The Israel of God
- Fellow heirs with Abraham and
with Jesus Christ
- A new creature
- In Christ through baptism
- Released from the bondage of the
- Released from the condemnation
of the old law.
- And heirs of eternal life which
is something the law of Moses by itself could never accomplish.
Galatians 6 Paraphrase:
Brethren, if any of you do something
sinful, those of you who are walking upright should help restore
them gently. But be careful, because in your zeal to help you
might fall into to sinful behavior yourselves. Help each other
with their troubles. When you do this, you are obeying the law
of Christ. If you think you are too important to help others,
you are only fooling yourself.
Prove your works by putting them into
practice for others. Make sure your own work is good and then
you will know if you have done anything to be proud of. You must each accept the responsibilities that are yours. Never Stop Doing Good
Those of you who are being taught God's word should share the good
things you have with the one who is teaching you.
Do not ever fool yourselves into
thinking you can deceive God in any way. What you plant is
what you are going to harvest in the end. If you live to
satisfy the lusts of the flesh, the harvest you will get from that will be eternal death.
But if you live in obedience to the Spirit, your harvest from the Spirit will be eternal life.
We must never give up on doing good to others. The
harvest of eternal life will be ours if we will persevere to the
end. We should help anyone who is in need whenever there
is an opportunity, especially to those who are of the family of God.
I am writing this now in my own
handwriting so you will know this letter is coming from me.
Those men who are trying to force you to be circumcised are only
doing it to keep themselves from being persecuted for the cross of
Christ. They are circumcised, but they don't obey the law of
Moses themselves. They want you to be circumcised for their own
May I never strive for personal gain
anywhere but in the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Because
of the death of Christ on the cross this sinful world is dead to me,
and I am dead to it. It does not matter anymore if anyone is
circumcised or not. The only thing that matters now is whether or
not we are a new creation in Christ. Do not let anyone get in
the way of what I have taught you anymore. Remember that I
myself was persecuted among you and I have the scars to prove it.
My brothers and sisters, I pray that
the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will be with your spirits.
May it be so.